Where should you file your divorce, custody or child support case?

Before filing your case, you must determine the correct state, county and courthouse to file with. Filing in the wrong courthouse, county or state may result in a complete dismissal of your case. Courts look at whether there is proper jurisdiction over a case before making any substantial rulings on the pending case. Jurisdiction is the legal word for “where legal proceeding will take place.” For a court to have authority to hear a case it must have subject matter and personal jurisdiction.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction is the power of a court to hear particular types of cases. If a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, then it lacks the authority to do anything on the case.  For instance, Illinois courts have subject matter jurisdiction to enter a divorce judgment if either party has lived in Illinois for 90 days prior to the filing for Divorce.

Personal Jurisdiction on the other hand is the ability of a court to exercise power over a particular individual. Illinois courts have personal jurisdiction over a person who has been served with a summons anywhere in the state of Illinois. With respect to divorce, legal separation, custody and child support cases an Illinois court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a party if the cause of action arises from the actions that lead to the dissolution of marriage, declaration of invalidity of marriage, legal separation and the maintenance of a marital home in Illinois. Furthermore, an Illinois court has personal jurisdiction if there is a failure to pay child support to children that live-in Illinois and if a spouse or former spouse has lived in Illinois since their separation or was directed to live in Illinois by their spouse.

In the event that one-party lives outside the state of Illinois, Illinois courts may still have jurisdiction of the non-resident individual if there is evidence of sufficient ties to or minimum contacts in the state of Illinois. For example, if the parties were married in Illinois, lived in Illinois together during their marriage, raised children in Illinois, and the grounds for divorce occurred in Illinois, then Illinois courts may have personal jurisdiction over the non-resident party. The Illinois jurisdictional requirement is determined on the basis of residency and the weighing of the equitable relief requested by the party filing in Illinois.

After determining that you are able to file in the state of Illinois, be sure to file in the proper county. The county to file your case with should be the same county that you or your spouse reside in. If there are children involved in the matter, then the case should be filed in the county where the children live in.

If you are unsure where to begin or how to file your divorce, custody or child support case and are looking to be represented by an attorney be sure to call Kiswani Law, P.C. for a free consultation at 708-210-9247.